Nissan Note is First Produced

The Nissan Note (kana:日産・ノート) is a mini MPV produced by the Japanese manufacturer Nissan.

The Japanese version has been on sale since 2004, and the European adaptation has gone on sale during 2006, with the United Kingdom first to launch, on 1 March. The car shares some of its underpinnings with the Renault Modus, and is designed to compete with the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva and Fiat Idea as well as the Renault offering. It is manufactured at Nissan's plant in Sunderland, England.

The car is positioned as a roomy car and includes special add-ons for family needs. The key feature is the flexibility of the interiors. Even a person as tall as 2.00 metres (6.6 ft) can fit in either the driver's seat or the back seat easily. It is designed to be a cross segment car. Another design detail of this car is the boomerang-shaped rear light. Nissan aims to appeal to the family car shoppers with this car by including children-friendly features.

The Nissan Note used to be available in three specifications, the 'S', 'SE' and 'SVE'. The base model was equipped with full electric windows, alloy wheels and front fog lights or the Flexi-Board boot system. The SE saw the introduction of 16" Alloys, Air Con, front fog lights and Flexi-Board Boot and the SVE had Climate Control, Rear Privacy Glass, 17" Alloys and ESP. These models have been replaced with the Visia, Acenta, Acenta R and the Tekna. The Visia is almost identical to the old 'S' model whereas the Acenta, Acenta R and Tekna now come complete with MP3 Auxiliary jack and Bluetooth Car Stereo as no cost options. In the UK the Note comes in five specifications; Visia, Visia+, Acenta, Acenta S, and Tekna. All models are fitted with 4 airbags, a single CD player, remote central locking, electric front windows, electric door mirrors and a sliding rear seat.

A year on from the presentation of the concept, comes the production version of the Nissan Note. Conceived and designed in Tokyo at Nissan's concept studio, Creative Box, the Note is almost identical to the preview at the 2004 Paris Motor Show and replaces the Almera Tino as the mini-MPV of the range. It keeps, however, a variation of the 'surftail' roofline that distinguished it's forebear's hatchback sibling. Unfortunately the brushed metal door handles of the concept are out, and side protection strips are in, exposing the perfunctory habits of its target market. Inside, the Note is similar in concept to its cousin from Renault, though without the seven-seat option. It will be in showrooms/school car parks early next year.

The Nissan Note is probably the largest small car ever built. It reached UK showrooms in March 2006 and quickly became a family favourite, due in part to its ability to accommodate four adults with ease.

Its generous interior space comes from the stretched Renault Modus platform it sits on, which gives the Note an impressively long wheelbase. This allows for a roomy cabin, which has a sliding rear bench seat that can increase legroom by more than 6in, cupholders galore and small but practical picnic tables.

That kind of space is hard enough to find in an executive saloon, let alone in a car originally priced from £10,000, and is particularly attractive when combined with small running costs. Roll the clock forward a few years, and thanks to depreciation, you can buy a three-year-old Note for just £4,000.

The Note is available with three engines: an 87bhp 1.4-litre petrol, a 108bhp 1.6-litre petrol, and an 86bhp 1.5-litre diesel. It usually pays to go for the diesel, which in this case is quicker than the 1.4-litre and returns 62.8mpg in mixed motoring, but the Note’s petrol engines are commendably frugal, giving 47.9mpg in the 1.4 unit and 42.8mpg in the larger one.

As diesel fuel is pricier, and you have to shell out some £800 more to buy the diesel model (compared with the equivalent 1.4 petrol), it will take a lot of mileage to recoup the extra. So, if you don’t do more than 10,000 miles a year, my pick is the 1.6-litre, which gives sprightly performance and CO2 emissions of 155g/km.

Originally, the Note family consisted of S, SE and SVE trim levels, but in September 2007 these became Visia, Acenta and Tekna. Entry-level Visia models have steel wheels, electric front windows and air-conditioning, while mid-spec cars get alloy wheels, electric windows all round, and practical touches such as remote central locking and front fog lights. Buy a Tekna or SVE and you enjoy half-leather upholstery, and automatic wipers and lights — which add more than £1,000 to the price of an equivalent entry-level car.

The Note drives well, with a firm ride but responsive steering and brakes, and nimble handling. It is easy to thread in and out of tight spots and the option of a four-speed auto gearbox on the 1.6-litre makes it ideal for those who creep about in city traffic.

Pleasingly, this British-built car has performed well in independent customer-satisfaction surveys. Hard-wearing fabrics are easily cleaned and while cabin plastics are dowdy they should last well. In a market full of buyers wanting small, economical cars with good cabin space, a used Note is definitely worthy of consideration.

OWNER’S VIEW

I had a Scénic but my Note 1.4 has more space and drives nicely. My friends got one as they liked mine. Kate Symonds, Worcester, Worcestershire

NEED TO KNOW

AIRBAGS Front and side are standard, and there’s passenger airbag deactivation. Also, curtain airbags on medium and high-grade models